Just when you thought it was safe to give up on humanity.
There’s no mistaking the amount of negativity present in society today. People scratching and clawing for relevance and control, consumed with promoting their version of right or wrong on a global stage in front of a bewildered audience.
The shadow cast is both heartbreaking and alarming, questioning hope for a brighter future.
Then you experience kindness, a moment of genuine thoughtfulness and intent that transcends time and agenda. It reminds you that people are generally good; that we all possess an inherent desire to assist one another overcome even the simplest of hurdles.
While possession is 9/10ths of the rule, acting on that impulse is what truly brings a spirit of kindness to life, translating the promise of “what could be” into the enriching reality of “what is.”
A Hiss Is But A Hiss
The morning was packed with a checklist of to-do items, a planned itinerary that stretched across multiple locations.
Transiting between destinations, I noticed a slight wobble and a faint, but rhythmic “womp-womp-womp” from my right front tire. Although my low tire pressure alarm hadn’t activated, the condition seemed to be worsening.
I pulled into a parking lot adjacent to the local Starbucks (yes, there is only one Starbucks in our town). Stepping out of the car, I heard a loud and steady hiss . . . a three-inch spike was slowly flattening my tire and deflating my once jovial disposition.
Thankful that I was on level ground and away from traffic, I opened the trunk to face my tire-changing destiny. We hadn’t used the spare tire or jack in this vehicle, so I devoted a few moments to despair and silent profanity.
The breeze picked up and light rain began to fall. “Great,” I thought to myself “might as well get started.”
Then I heard a voice over my shoulder, “Sir, do you need some help with that?”
Despite DNA Evidence, Offer Accepted
Nothing about me said I needed help . . . I was dressed in jeans; was of able mind, body, and spirit; with plenty of room to operate and all the time in the world.
My facial expression may have been a red flag, but I swear my profanity was inaudible.
And still, this voice was offering to help me.
I turned to notice a gentleman in blue work clothes. He repeated his offer, “I can help you with that. It won’t take but a couple of minutes.”
I was at a crossroads: In front of me was an individual offering unsolicited assistance.
Then again, I am a male of the species . . . refusing offers of assistance is woven into the fabric of my DNA, along with never asking for directions, complaining why I have to do everything myself, and questioning why these things always happen to me.
But something compelled me to overcome those instincts and accept this extension of kindness. “Yeah, sure,” I said, “If it’s not too much trouble. Thank you.”
“Oh, no trouble at all, I’ll bring my van over.”
Chris, as he introduced himself, was part of the Mobil Service team from Ford of Clermont, our local dealership and where we had purchased the car a few years prior.
The next thing I know, Chris attacked my flat tire like he was part of a NASCAR pit crew.
Lowering the car with his pneumatic jack . . . just one of the time and energy saving benefits of the experience . . . we noticed the spare tire was flat, as well.
No problem since the Mobile Unit had a built-in compressor. Chris filled the tire with air, offered his perspective on having both front tires replaced, and was on his way.
I was amazed . . . the entire episode lasted less than ten minutes.
Life Is For Learning
I asked Chris for his permission to chronicle this experience in Tall Tim Talks.
While his “business” is helping those in automotive need, there are lessons for all of us to embrace in our personal pursuit of kindness:
There’s Nothing Random About Kindness
Never a big fan of the expression ‘Random Acts of Kindness’, implying that the impulse of thoughtful consideration is something you turn on and off like a light switch.
Or, that these acts are tracked like data, and since the only coordinating element is kindness, their application is referred to as random.
Kindness begins with intention, a mindset focused on being friendly, generous, and considerate, remaining cognitively present with the capacity to alter your overall outlook on life and influence those around you.
While an inherent virtue, it is subject to discretion . . . you can choose to be kind, helpful, and courteous, or not.
Make the right choice: Be kind on a consistent, routine basis.
Nothing random about that.
Embracing An Artisan’s Approach
When you love what you do, life demonstrates why you do it.
Chris is a service professional. Without getting too granular, his job as a member of Ford’s Mobile Service team is to service multiple vehicles at a customer’s facility or location.
But to me, that’s not why he does it.
Like an artisan, his passion can be mistaken as a desire to share his talent and expertise with the world around him.
What I witnessed was someone passionate about people.
Changing a flat tire represented his practical application of knowledge and experience, a basic function played out in various forms across service-related industries every day.
It was intuition, that little voice inside of us all, that alerted him of an opportunity to do something special, to step out of the box and help someone in need.
He didn’t have to listen . . . he simply chose to.
In The Spirit Of Kindness, I Accept
Which brings us to one final and all-important lesson: accept an offer of kindness.
There was a moment when my emotional phasers were on “stun”, ready to dismiss any need of assistance, choosing instead to wallow in a state of self-pity and angst.
Then I thought: Why not?
Why not let someone in, allow a person the opportunity to fulfill their well-meant desire to assist. Afterall, life is intended to be lived gracefully, to approach each opportunity with a sense of fluidity and finesse.
Consider the result of my experience and the alternatives: the flat tire was removed and the spare tire in place within five minutes. I couldn’t have done that myself.
The spare, which we had never used, was also flat. So, even if I had changed it, I would still be sitting there with a flat tire.
Being emotionally agile, and accepting Chris’s offer, changed my reality, completely altering a course of events set in motion by a three-inch spike.
When faced with a choice that day, I chose to accept an offer of kindness.
It’s Your Turn To Choose
I have related this experience from a perspective of free will and discretionary effort.
Chris obviously understands the higher purpose of his work, one that extends beyond mechanical knowledge and into the influence he can have on the environment around him.
The lessons and application, however, apply to all facets of life.
Imagine the impact if you approached everyday through a lens of kindness and thoughtfulness. It would become something much greater than simply what you do . . . it’ll be the window into why you do it.
In the end, all three lessons remind us it will be your choice . . . make it a kind one.
This is Tall Tim and I Am At Your Service!